Minister Oakes Meets with UBCM Executive

The UBCM Executive met with the Minister Oakes on November 22nd to discuss elections legislation, Gas Tax/Building Canada funding programs, the provincial government's core services review, the ALC and next steps with UBCM's Strong Fiscal Futures report and MMBC.

Strong Fiscal Futures
President Martin referenced the Premier's comments at UBCM Convention regarding the Province's interest in discussing elements of the Strong Fiscal Futures Report, specifically the concept of providing incentives to local governments that grow their local economies.  She noted that UBCM would be following up on the letter to the Premier proposing to establish a joint UBCM/Provincial Management Committee to develop an approach that would support and share the benefits of economic growth.  Minister Oakes advised that she would follow up on the request that had been put forward to the Premier on next steps.

Gas Tax / Building Canada Update
The President and Minister discussed the status of discussions with the federal government on both the Gas Tax renewal and the Building Canada Fund.  It was noted that the federal government was concentrating on the renewal of the Gas Tax fund, but more work needed to done on the Building Canada fund.

Local Government Elections Reform
Minister Oakes advised that work continues on preparing phase 1 of elections legislation; changes related to accountability, transparency, compliance and enforcement, and education and information; but noted that work had begun to engage stakeholders as part of phase 2, expense limits.  Provincial staff advised that an Expense Limits discussion paper would be released for comment as part of the consultation.  Further information on the phased elections reform process can be found here.

The Minister sought feedback from Executive members on expense limits. Executive members identified the challenge of establishing a limit that will work for all elected officials; and not be so complicated and complex that it deters individuals from running for office.

Executive members also took the opportunity to reiterate UBCM's policy on two additional election-related requests:
  • a move to 4 year terms; and
  • the need to provide the City of Vancouver with tools to address it specific challenges around both campaign expenses and contributions.
Core Services Review
The President requested an update from the Minister on the Core Service Review being led by Minister Bennett, the process for identifying what entities are up for consideration and specifically what is being contemplated with respect to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

The Minister advised that the Core Review is an ongoing process whereby Ministers have the opportunity to identify specific proposals or areas of their ministry that could be considered as part of the core review process.  She indicated that if a specific proposal that is put forward, was accepted for review, it would only be at that point that affected and interested stakeholders would be consulted. 

With respect to the ALC, Executive members expressed concerns that recent media reports did not rule out some form of review.  Members noted that if in fact there was some form of ALC/ALR review forthcoming, UBCM and its members would want to be made aware and be part of the consultation process. 

Multi Materials BC (MMBC)
Councillor Linda Hepner, co-chair of UBCM's Recycling Negotiating Committee updated the Minister on the Committee's work to date and on their most recent meeting with MMBC representatives.  She advised that there were still concerns amongst many local governments about the contracts being offered to local governments and concerns that the Province was not doing enough to support local governments in their negotiations with MMBC.    The Minister thanked the Executive for the update and advised that she would share the information with her provincial counterparts. 

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